Sunday, April 3, 2011

654. The Jerk (1979)

Running Time: 94 minutes
Directed By: Carl Reiner
Written By: Steve Martin, Carl Gottlieb, Michael Elias
Main Cast: Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, M. Emmet Walsh, Jackie Mason, Mabel King


"The Jerk" will be departing the streaming portion of Netflix in a few days, so with a short running time, I decided to go ahead and knock it off of my list.

Navin R. Johnson (Martin) is a "poor black man" living in Mississippi with his black family. On his birthday, his mother feels that it's time to tell him that he's not her natural son, but rather he is adopted. Navin is shocked - "You mean I'm gonna' stay this color forever!!?", he exclaims. After an awakening of sorts, via the radio, Navin decides that it's time for him to break free of the nest and see the world and makes the decision to head to St. Louis. He puts up his thumb and eventually finds his way to a gas station in St. Louis, where he is hired on. Navin is a total imbecile, but manages to invent a nifty little gadget that keeps your eyeglasses from falling off the end of your nose - an idea that he tells to an inventor. From there, Navin moves on to work for a carnival, where he works as a weight guesser and ultimately meets Marie (Peters). The two fall in love, but she ends up leaving Navin and our hero is left to hopelessly wander the streets, without food or money. That is until the inventor finds Navin and awards him a check for $250,000 for the invention of the "Opti-Grab".

We'll try to keep this short, sweet and spoiler free. Believe it or not (my wife didn't), but I had never seen "The Jerk" before...ever. I had never really been to big on Steve Martin and he was only occasionally funny in things like "Father of the Bride" and "Saturday Night Live", so this was never something that I went out of my way to check out. "The Jerk" was definitely a funny film, as I found myself laughing out loud on more than one occasion and this film kind of seemed like the turning point for all comedies to follow. It seemed as though from this point on, comedies would be a little more crass and the whole thing reminded me of an earlier, more tame version of some of the comedies that we have today, from the likes of Judd Apatow and The Farrelly Brothers.

However, is it a must see? I don't think so. Sure it's funny, but in my opinion very few comedies are actually deserving of "must see" status. There were plenty of omissions from the book, that could have easily been given the spot that "The Jerk" was given. It is funny, don't get me wrong and I'm not knocking it or anything - I liked it. I just don't think that it deserved a spot in the book, but this certainly isn't the first time or even the most blatantly obvious time that this occurrence has come about. If you're in the right mood - ready for something very non-serious and funny, then by all means, check out "The Jerk".

RATING: 6/10 We'll call it a '6' and sink it right into that middle ground area. Nothing overly special, but nothing blatantly offensive either.


April 3, 2011 12:26pm

1 comment:

  1. I had good hopes of this one.. it crops up frequently on 'funniest films ever' lists, so was dissapointed that I was dissapointed (if you see what I mean).
    I don't like 'lets laugh at the idiot' jokes, and we got the usual lame "hey, lets say shit, that will get a laugh". Well, if you are 17 yes, sure. Sorry, I just found it lame and unfunny.


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